The Current's Guitar Collection: Dominic Corso, The Orwells - Sarricola Custom

Dominic Corso of The Orwells performs in The Current studio
Dominic Corso of The Orwells performs in The Current studio. He's playing a custom-built Sarricola guitar. (Luke Taylor | MPR)
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When The Orwells visited The Current for an in-studio session, guitar player Dominic Corso took some time to tell us about the guitar he uses. Here's what he had to say.

This looks like a Tele, but the headstock says something else.

It is called a Sarricola. It's this guy who went to high school with [the Orwells' front man] Mario Cuomo's dad. And he made guitars in the '80s and '90s for like, Poison, and other bands. And then I guess — I'm not 100 percent sure this is true, I might be perpetuating a myth — but apparently, he invented the modern wammy bar,* and then Fender stole it from him, so he quit making guitars for years and just did other things.

But then, since Mario's dad knows him, and he knew that he used to make guitars, Mario's dad asked him, "Oh, make a custom guitar for Dominic." So here we are — this is the guitar. And it was very nice of him to do it for free, he came out of retirement just for me.

I really like the shape of the Tele, and it's a custom guitar, so I was like, "Yeah, make me a Tele-shaped guitar."

So it's a Tele body, it's a white Tele front, but then the back is zebra wood, straight from Africa. This was a tree in Africa at one point. The front is made of Corian. It's really heavy; it's like the heaviest guitar on earth! (laugh)

And it has Seymour Duncan pickups — he loves the Seymour Duncans. He loves mentioning that all the time.

That was so nice of him to build this guitar for you.

Yes, he's a great guy.

Is he in Chicagoland?

I want to say he's in the Chicagoland area, maybe northwest Indiana? But yes, Chicago area.

How long have you had this guitar?

This guitar is probably a little over a year old. It took a couple months to make because he has his other life now, so his workshop is in his basement. He did it from scratch.

So was your album, Terrible Human Beings, done when you got this? Or did you use this when recording the album?

I recorded the whole record with this guitar. I can't remember all the specifics of when recorded because we did all the songs a couple times in different studios, but I know that all the finals were on this guitar. It sounds great.

How does your writing and arranging process work? How do you guys write songs?

I think it's evolved throughout the years. It always was just one of us had an idea and just show everybody and then we'd jam on it. But Terrible Human Beings, though, there were some ideas that came from one of us and then we all built on it, but most of the songs were the three of us — me, Matt [O'Keefe] and Mario — getting together with acoustic guitars and just seeing what we could do and it ended up being the record.

But my stuff that I do personally, I have this guitar in my room all the time, and whenever I'm like bored or have an idea, I just pick it up and mess around and record it on my phone with the Voice Memos app. I have like 400 recordings of ideas and s o m e t i m e s they turn into real songs.

Do you prefer writing on acoustic or electric guitar?

Acoustic's tough because you can only do chords and stuff, but this, you can kind of mess around with bending strings and lead parts. It's easier for an electric guitarist.

So is this your main guitar on the road, every show, every night?

Yes, every night. We don't have backup guitars, actually, so if I break a string, I don't know what I'm going to do. But I'm very careful with this guitar anyway, so it should last me a long time. Except my knobs fell off, I've got to get those back on.

If you break a string, do you just need to pause for a bit?

I haven't broken a string yet on this tour, knock on wood! But if we break a string, our friends the Walters are opening for us, so we could use their guitar if need be, but yeah, we need to get a backup guitar. Because that could be very bad if both of us break a string or something, then we're screwed. But we also have a dude who would restring our guitars during the set if we break a string, and then we'll have our guitar by the next song.

Now that you've got this guitar out on tour, has Sarricola checked in with you on the road?

Yeah — I talk to him through Mario's dad sometimes, and he asks about the guitar and I always say it's great. It's a great guitar, man. It's got a little tuning issue, but we'll get that fixed.


*Editor's note: According to a search of the United States Patent database, William Sarricola, Jr., of Franklin Park, Ill., was issued U.S. patent no. 4,823,669 on April 25, 1989, for a tremolo device for an electric guitar.

Resources


The Orwells - official site

Sarricola Guitars

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3 Photos

  • Dominic Corso and his Sarricola custom guitar
    Dominic Corso of The Orwells, with his Sarricola custom guitar in the green room at MPR after finishing an in-studio session at The Current. (Luke Taylor | MPR)
  • Dominic Corso and his Sarricola custom guitar
    Dominic Corso of The Orwells, with his Sarricola custom guitar. The face of the guitar is made of Corian, a surface material made by DuPont. (Luke Taylor | MPR)
  • Dominic Corso and his Sarricola custom guitar
    Headstock on the custom Sarricola guitar played by Dominic Corso of The Orwells. (Luke Taylor | MPR)

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